SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Once again, the San Jose Sharks found themselves facing a third-period deficit against a goalie who kept turning away good scoring chances. And once again, the Sharks found a way to pull out a victory.
Joe Pavelski scored with 4:40 remaining to cap the second straight third-period rally for San Jose and the Sharks won their 11th straight home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1 on Saturday night.
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“It’s not going to be an easy road by any means,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We can end up outchancing a team by a lot and still be in this type of game. The positive sign is two nights in a row we’ve been able to come back in the third. We’ve been able to beat a hot goaltender and we’ve been patient enough that it hasn’t cost us in the defensive zone.”
After being blanked by Steve Mason for more than two periods, the Sharks finally broke through with goals from Dany Heatley and Pavelski.
San Jose scored two third-period goals Thursday night against Carey Price to rally to a 3-2 victory over Montreal.
“When we’re in the right mindset, you don’t get frustrated until after the game because you know it’s coming,” Pavelski said. “That’s what has happened for us the last two nights. It’s important we stay after it.”
Andrew Murray scored the lone goal for Columbus, which began a three-game California trip with a loss. It was the first road game under interim coach Claude Noel, who took over from Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 3.
Mason, who made 40 saves in a 3-0 home win over San Jose on Feb. 10, looked poised to become the first goalie since Marty Turco in 2006-07 to blank San Jose twice in one season until faltering in the third.
“A first-place team, they’re there for a reason,” said Mason, who made 42 saves. “They never gave up and it showed. Any time you lose a game when you have the lead going into the third, it’s disappointing.”
Mason stopped the first 37 shots, turning aside many good scoring chances for San Jose. But the Sharks finally managed the equalizer midway through the third. The tying goal came on the power play when Joe Thornton fed Heatley from behind the net and Heatley knocked the puck in before losing his stick. It was Heatley’s fifth goal this season against Columbus.
The Sharks were unable to score on a two-man advantage later in the period. Thornton nearly converted on a 5-on-4 but his shot got past Mason and slid along the goal line before being covered up.
Mason couldn’t stop the next chance. Mason stopped Ryane Clowe on a chance in close. Pavelski took the rebound and skated behind the net and back around before lifting a shot past Mason and into the net for the 2-1 lead.
“What happens is that type of pressure makes you do things you’re not accustomed to doing or don’t want to do,” Noel said. “They know what’s at stake for them. The Montreal game the other night, they played the same way in the third so we knew it was coming. They’ve got good players with experience, they’ve played at a high level, they played in the playoffs and you can see why.”
Manny Malhotra scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:55 remaining Thursday. The Sharks had won just twice in their first 16 games when trailing after two periods before doing it twice in as many games.
Evgeni Nabokov made the lead hold up, making 21 saves to earn the victory.
Murray scored his goal a minute into the second period when he knocked in a pass from R.J. Umberger to cap an end-to-end rush. It was Murray’s second in as many games since the Olympic break after scoring none in his first 29 games.
There was no scoring but plenty of other action in the first period with San Jose forward Brad Staubitz in the middle of most of it. Just 5 minutes into the game, Staubitz got into a fight with Jared Boll. Staubitz went to the locker room to have a cut treated.
Almost as soon as he got back onto the ice, Staubitz went after Derek Dorsett with about 5 minutes remaining in the period. Staubitz got a double-minor for roughing and San Jose almost ended up scoring short-handed. Thornton couldn’t convert a wraparound into a wide-open net after being set up by Patrick Marleau.
NOTES: Sharks F Ryan Vesce was called up from Worcester to replace the injured Scott Nichol, who will miss 7-to-10 days with a shoulder injury after being checked into the boards late by Montreal’s C Maxim Lapierre. … Nathan Paetsch made his debut for Columbus after being acquired Wednesday in a deal that sent Raffi Torres to Buffalo. … D Mike Commodore returned for Columbus after missing the previous seven games with various injuries.